Fighting The Somme by Jack Sheldon  Well gang, I am here to report that Jack Sheldon has done it once more. His num...

Fighting The Somme By Jack Sheldon Fighting The Somme By Jack Sheldon

Fighting The Somme By Jack Sheldon

Fighting The Somme By Jack Sheldon



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 Well gang, I am here to report that Jack Sheldon has done it once more. His numerous books on the German army in World War I have almost become the stuff of legends. They are not only jam packed with history, but also have tons of first hand accounts. 'Fighting on The Somme' is no different. There have been tons of books written about the battle from the British side, from paeans of praise for Haig to the more well known 'lions led by donkeys'. But you cannot have a battle with only one side, and this is where Jack Sheldon comes in. We have all read numerous accounts of the battles for the Schwaben redoubt, but now I know exactly why. It was the linchpin of the German defense. I will use the author's own words about the redoubt:

" The priority thus afforded to the vital ground (by the Germans) is in sharp contrast to the position adopted by General Haig, commander of the BEF, as recorded in his diary following a tense meeting with General Joffre during the evening of July 3d. 

"Joffre pointed out the importance of our getting Thievpal Hill ... I was considering the desirability of pressing my attack on Longueval ... at this General Joffre exploded in rage. 'He could not approve of it'. He 'ordered me to attack Thievpal and Pozieres ... The truth is the poor man cannot argue, nor can he easily read a map."

 "On the contrary, the fact of the matter is that, after two years of directing major battles against the German Army, Joffre had developed clear ideas about what was considered important by his enemies. he definitely could 'read a map', could spot a Schwerpunkt (point of main effort)  when he saw one, but the command relationships meant that he did not have the power to order General Haig to do anything." 

 The tragic part about the Schwaben redoubt is that it was captured on the first day of the Somme by British soldiers, only to be lost in a counter attack.

The chapters of the book are:

In the Beginning Were The Reformers
Falkenhayn's Folly: Sleepwalking To Near Disater
1st July 1916: The Battle For The Schwerpunkt
Haig Lets The Defence Off The Hook. 1st-15th july
Army Group Gallwitz: A Failed Experiment
Hindenburg And Ludendorff Pick Up The Pieces
Strained To Almost The Breaking Point
Pyrrhic Victory Or Bloody Stalemate 

 Falkenhayn (chief of the German Great general staff) was too interested in his operations at Verdun to 'bleed the French dry' to objectively listen to General Fritz Von Below and his warnings about the French and British looming attack on the Somme. Even after the Allied attack, Falkenhayn only reluctantly released troops from the charnel house of Verdun to the Somme area. So, in many ways the Battle of The Somme fulfilled its role in taking pressure off of the French Army at Verdun. It is true that the Allied, and especially the British Army, spilled much more blood than necessary at the time. The British Army was, in 1916, a force that had to deal with a lot of growing pains. Unfortunately they had to learn many things on the job. The author shows and explains these points and more.

 Mr. Sheldon has, as usual, done a superb job in showing us the thoughts, actions, and reasoning behind the German defense. His chore is made that much more difficult because of the loss of most of the Prussian records from WWI in 1945. He shows that the battle was a learning process for both Armies. The author ends the book with an insightful look at the battle as a whole, and its repercussions for both the German and Allied Armies.


Robert

Book: Fighting The Somme
Author: Jack Sheldon
Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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